40% of Salespeople Aren’t Making Their Numbers. Can Marketing Help?

April 22, 2014

I recently read an article in eMarketer.com that dealt with sales stats in 2013, and that almost 40% of the sales forces weren’t making their numbers and it floored me. I sure wouldn’t want to be running a company based on sales of XXX and then the sales force under-delivers by that large of a difference-Yikes!

2013 wasn’t a bad year for the economy (we’ve seen a lot worse), and I can’t help but wonder what their issues were in closing the sale. One of the biggest reasons given was the sale ended in a “no decision.” What does that mean?

Here’s an interesting graphic:

It sounds to me like either the leads weren’t qualified correctly or the salesman didn’t do his homework in determining where the prospect was in the sales funnel. It also sounds like there were multiple decision makers in the process and possibly they all were not included in the sales pitch. A few other things bother me as well:

  • What I can’t understand in this report is that 31% were unable to effectively communicate value to a prospect - yes, you heard me right.
  • 26% had content that wasn’t aligned with the buyer
  • 20% didn’t have the necessary content or resources for selling

This sounds like a great opportunity for marketing to step in and help fill the content voids they are talking about. It also begs the question of whether these results were from a traditional selling model versus that of one using social media as part of the mix.

If you had good content that was searchable on the internet, chances are the right people will find that info long before they identify themselves to you as a prospect and get a lot of their basic homework done first. You’d be able to show your expertise in a market segment so they think of you as an industry expert, which will help set you apart (value of your brand) when they finally decide to contact you. Marketing can help answer those questions ahead of time if we know the different stages of the selling cycle and what’s important to address at each level.

Am I missing the boat here or do you agree?


Do You Have a Strategy for Negative Social Media Posts?

April 16, 2014

I’m amazed by the stats that more than half of those on social media don’t have a plan to respond to negative social media posts.  Social media isn’t new, isn’t going away, and if you’ve followed or read anything about this space, you know there have been numerous posts about the subject.

The February 2014 research from Social Media Marketing University substantiates the notion that people still aren’t taking this seriously.

Negative issues need to be addressed and what better way to hear about issues than on social platforms. Don’t you want to know what customers are saying about you? You’d better be monitoring them and jump in with a plan to respond. There are several monitoring options out there will help you. Here are some free ones – Social mention, Google alerts, Hootsuite and Tweetdeck.

I recently had an experience with a major faucet manufacturer about a replacement. We had to get a new tub at home and my wife wanted to update the faucets, which we did. The manufacturer sent the wrong spout and it took our plumber almost 2 months to get the replacement for it. They weren’t good at customer service, just making excuses. I made mention (by brand name) on a tweet what my frustration was, and true to form, heard nothing back.

In the short run, ignoring me may not be a big deal to them since I had already purchased the tub set, but in the long run, my wife is planning to replace all the faucets in our 3 bathrooms. Guess who isn’t going to be considered for that purchase?

In a world where we have alternative plans for everything, don’t overlook social responses to negative posts. It’s better to address them straight on or they will fester and come back to bite you when you least expect it. Have a plan in place.


Are You Using Influencers in Your New Product Launch to Professional Tradesmen?

April 15, 2014

When you’re planning your next new product launch beyond your traditional media lists that you send to, are you utilizing the Influencers in the market you’re going after?

Most times you don’t think about those bloggers out there that have big followings in the markets that you’re trying to reach.

An Influencer is someone who is able to mobilize options and create reactions when talking about a specific market or topic. They are the kinds of folks you want talking about you and your products. For example, if your target is mechanical contractors, you should be talking with John Mesenbrink from mechanical-hub. His blog is known throughout the industry and he’s a respected source of information.

Beyond getting them samples to try, they are looking for material you can provide so they can produce their own content. If possible, some exclusive little tidbits are always helpful. They can spread the word to a large number of your target audience in a short period of time…that’s the good news. The  potential bad news is you can’t send them a press release and expect them to run it as is. Influencers make and have opinions, and we always run the risk that they may not be as kind as you would in evaluating the product. They will always be fair, but to some marketers, that’s a relative term.

Long-term strategy would be to identify and start-up a conversation long before you launch that new product. Get to know them and they you. Again, it’s about relationships.


Mobile Apps: Manufacturers, Are You Using Them to Build Customer Loyalty?

March 4, 2014

Most folks are familiar with mobile apps, but I think we associate them more with retail/consumer applications instead of the B-to-B world. The key to a good app is no different from any other piece of content you develop. It has to answer and be helpful to your customers. To have an app for an app’s sake doesn’t do anyone any good. You need to be customer centric.

The reasons for having an app are pretty simple:

  • How many contractors do you know that don’t have a smart phone?
  • Mobile represents over 5.3 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide.
  • Mobile devices are on the way to surpassing PCs as the first screen for all web usage according to a study by Grant/Morgan Stanley.

eMarketer recently had a post, Mobile Apps Help Lure Customers, Spur Loyalty, that I thought had some great points that would spill over into the B-to-B world for manufacturers to consider. The survey was done by Forbes Insights to executives of companies with revenues over $250,000. Most common reasons were: customer communications, customer service and product information. No real surprises here other than the way it’s accessed and delivered.

Apps can definitely play a role well beyond branding to both support existing customers, but to help potentials through the buying cycle. Potential apps that you might consider would be:

  • Product information
  • Installation and troubleshooting instructions videos
  • Productivity tools
  • Competitive cross reference charts
  • Ability to check current inventory levels
  • Distributor locator with direct links

These are only a few ideas. The point is, with mobile being the fastest growing segment, you need to have a presence there. Make sure your interfaces are user friendly and make sure they fall within the requirement of the app stores.

If you like this post, you might want to read:

Do You Have a Mobile App? Are You Promoting it?

Things to Consider When Using Mobile to Reach the Professional Tradesman.


What Does 2014 Look Like For You?

January 15, 2014

I know for most of us, 2013 was a positive experience. Most of our clients and the folks I talk to in the industry had good growth this past year and are expecting the same this year.

According to a recent article in eMarketer.com, 80% of small business are forecasting a better 2014.  Here’s what they are saying they will be concentrating on in 2014.

While the small business owners are optimistic about 2014, economic uncertainty and government policies are still on their mind.

So what is your outlook for the new year and where are your challenges? Do any of them match up with what the survey indicates?


How Are You Putting Relevant Content in Front of Your Customers?

August 7, 2013

As marketers, we have two challenges: one to create great content and two to deliver it. Recent studies have indicated that email still ranked among the top outreach channels to reach buyers no matter what stage they are in the buying cycle. Studies also show that emails should be integrated into other marketing tactics as well.

So knowing the emails are a viable way to deliver the message, we should probably spend some time on the other deliverable – relevant content!

Relevant content addresses the needs of a potential customer. It gives them options to solve a problem or gives them resources for them to investigate. Relevant content draws in potential customers.

According to an article in eMarketer, content creation was still the #1 challenge for them.

So our challenge is to give the reader WOW info every time, which is no small task. You should enlist the help of others within your company that have specific expertise to help develop relevant content.

Sales, engineering and customer service are certainly three places to start. They all are talking to either existing or potential customers and can readily identify issues that need to be addressed. By addressing them, you’re becoming that thought leader which should be one of your objectives.

The key to successful engagement comes in a variety of types of content.

A golden rule is, don’t put content out for the sake of having something out there. You should be looking for relevant stuff, not quantity.


Major Trends in the B-to-B Space According to Google

July 9, 2013

Since Google touches us all, it’s good to get some trends from “Big Brother” especially when it relates to the B-to-B markets. emarketer.com recently had an interview with Mike Miller, director of business and industrial markets at Google, and some new market research they just completed.

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Here are some highlights that we, as B-to-B marketers, should consider:

  • Search - Still big and this should be no surprise. Internet usage among the B-to-B sector jumped from 71% to 88% over the last year.  Even more enlightening is when asked about how they used search to research business purposes; there was a 23% increase over last year from 67% to 90%.
  • Videos - More companies in the B-to-B space are creating videos. They range from how-to videos to thought leadership topics. Here’s an interesting stat – the C suite indexes very high on using videos to find info.
  • Digital marketing to reinforce the sales force - By the time a B-to-B purchaser actually engages with a company or sales rep, they’re 57% of the way through the decision process.

So with all our marketing challenges, hopefully these will give you some insight on what you might want to focus your efforts on.


Are Your Emails Optimized for Mobile?

September 18, 2012

Why, you ask, should you be concerned about optimizing your emails? How about because one-third of emails worldwide are opened on mobile!

According to a post on eMarketer, email open rates in North America are on the rise. There is no doubt that email is still relevant, but the challenge is cutting through over-stuffed in boxes.

With over 36% of emails worldwide being opened on mobile, only about 22% according to StrongMail have mobilized templates.

Here are some things to consider to ensure your emails are being read:

  • reduce length of text
  • increase font size
  • narrow template
  • use fewer calls to action
  • design to be more touch friendly

 


New Survey Shows that Mobile is Important to Professional Tradesmen

June 27, 2012

It should come as no surprise to anyone that smartphones and tablets are changing the way we all communicate and do business. This couldn’t be more true, especially for small businesses like contractors. These guys are “time starved” and are not sitting behind a computer all day. They are out taking care of business.

A recent survey by Cargo and Inc. Magazine in emarketer.com showed the vast majority (915) of U.S. small companies place importance on wireless communications and smartphones for their businesses. Tablets were not far behind at (64%). You can certainly bet that contractors of all kinds are on the top of this list.

Technology that Is Important to Their Business According to US Small-Business Owners, March 2012 (% of respondents)

So, if you’re not considering mobile as a key way to communicate with those professional tradesman, you should be.

Here’s a simple tip to get started: Adapt your mobile web presence for Apple OS-based devices (iPads make up 79% followed by Android devices at 39%).


Reaching Contractors via Mobile. Still Not a Believer? See what Grainger is doing.

June 19, 2012

We’ve talked a lot about mobile and what it means to both manufacturers and distributors when trying to reach the professional tradesmen. For those who are still on the fence about mobile and where it’s going, here is some useful info.

I recently read a few articles in emarketer.com on mobile that brought up several good points. emarketer.com interviewed Geoff Robertson from Grainger on how they are using mobile in their sales process.

Here are some highlights:

  • Over the past 12 months, Grainger has seen a 400% increase in mobile activity.
  • Beyond the location and availability issues, Grainger is trying to help companies streamline their workflow by giving those who are requesting the parts to list them, and then those responsible for purchasing can sign off all using mobile technology.
  • Over 50% of their users feel comfortable ordering over mobile devices.
  • Google has an entirely separate algorithm for mobile device searches.
  • Google reported that 1 in 7 searches are now done on mobile devices.

If you don’t have a mobile strategy in place, it should get on your radar screen soon or you’ll be missing lots of opportunities.

If you like this post, you might want to read:

Are You Targeting Emails for Your Mobile Marketing?

Why a Mobile Strategy is so Important to Reach the Professional Tradesmen

What’s Your Mobile Media Strategy for 2012?


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